Egypt’s government is limiting access to Signal, a free, privacy-friendly instant messaging app endorsed by Edward Snowden himself. The app, available for Android, iOS and desktops, boasts end-to-end encryption.
On Saturday, several Egypt-based users complained that they can no longer send messages, while others said Signal was not working on ISPs TE Data and Vodafone. The app’s developer, Open Whisper Systems, confirmed the government’s interference on Twitter:
The company later announced it will implement technologies that bypass these restrictions and recommended users rely on Tor or a VPN to circumvent the ban, for now.
“We’ll begin deploying censorship circumvention in Signal over the next several weeks. Until then, Tor or a VPN can be used to access Signal,” they said.
This is not the first time Egypt has taken such measures. In 2011, the government blocked Blackberry’s messaging system and, in 2015, reportedly did the same with Skype, Viber and Whatsapp.
Signal’s Android version has been downloaded by some 5 million people.
“Signal is the most scalable encryption tool we have. It is free and peer reviewed. I encourage people to use it everyday,” says Laura Poitras, filmmaker and journalist.
Use anything by Open Whisper Systems,” Snowden says on the developer’s website.
Signal’s technology has also been adopted by other encrypted messaging systems, such as WhatsApp and Facebook’s Secret Conversations feature.